WASHINGTON – House Democratic leaders are drafting a letter to President Donald Trump that would propose roughly $5 billion in border security, just as long as the president agrees to open up the government.
The proposal does not include money for any “new structures” along the southern border as the president has demanded so it is unlikely to move as is. But it is still significant because it is the first time Democratic leadership will broadly lay out what they might accept in any kind of compromise.
“It’s a starting point, you know, I think we all want border security there is no question about it,” Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told reporters Wednesday. “It’s just that some of the things that are being pursued in the name of border security we disagree with.”
Thompson said he would assume the letter will come from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., but he is involved in drafting the plan.
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“No new structures, the only thing we are talking about is existing structures, along with the judges and some other things,” Thompson said. He said there would be money for “some new” Customs and Border Patrol agents and to bolster ports of entry.
Thompson said protections for so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, are not included in the proposal.
Trump offered a proposal that would include temporary protections for Dreamers as well as refugees who had previously been given Temporary Protected Status in the United States in exchange for $5.7 billion for his wall along the southern border. The president’s proposal would make it harder for minors from Central America to seek asylum, an idea that Democrats oppose.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has scheduled a vote to begin debate on the president’s proposal Thursday. If that fails to get the 60 votes required, a bill that would fund most of the government through Sept. 30 and the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8 will be voted on.
The Democratic-controlled House has already passed that bill, but Trump has said he would veto it. It is unclear if either bill will make it through the Senate.
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